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With Nikola Mirotic back in the hospital, Fred Hoiberg is now unclear on the forward’s return

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – It wasn’t the Luol Deng spinal tap from back in 2013, but simple Bulls surgeries tend to be an adventure.

Nikola Mirotic was just the latest.

The second-year forward was back in the hospital after undergoing an appendectomy, this time having a hematoma removal over the weekend.

As far as that projected return right after the All-Star Break that was originally hoped, that is now very much in doubt.

“He’s on a liquid diet right now,’’ Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said on Wednesday. “He’s in quite a bit of pain but his spirits are OK. Hopefully he’ll get out of the hospital soon and just get him back.

“As far as a timetable for Niko to get back on the floor, we just don’t know yet. He had the complication, got it fixed, and hopefully we’ll get him back soon.’’

Not exactly the best news for a team that’s been struggling, as well as short-handed in the frontcourt. The Bulls lost Joakim Noah with season-ending shoulder surgery, and Mirotic is going to need some serious recovery time now following a second surgery.

“It’s still too early to tell,’’ Hoiberg said of a timetable. “Gradually he’ll have to get his strength back. Hopefully he’ll be out of the hospital in the next day or two and hopefully Niko will recover quickly from it. But you have to be careful anytime you’re dealing with surgery, not just one but two so you have to be a little bit careful.’’

Help could be on the way, however, as Mike Dunleavy, who has missed the entire season after undergoing back surgery right before training camp started, completed his second day of practice with the Santa Cruz D-League team, and rejoined the team Wednesday night.

There have been no setbacks for Dunleavy, and a return by the weekend was possible.

The trading of Pau

Veteran big man Pau Gasol is no stranger to trade rumors, dealing with them on an almost annual basis back in his Lakers days.

Maybe that’s why he’s grown immune to any sort of rumors hovering over him now.

“No, I’m not concerned about it,’’ Gasol said. “I don’t think about it at all.

“As long as you’re doing your job and you’re doing what you’re supposed to do, you understand that there are certain things that might happen that are not in your control and they happen for different reasons. That’s why I’m so OK with anything like that, with any of those rumors.’’

Gasol has a player option at the end of this season, and has already stated that he would opt out and test the market.

“Anything is possible in life, isn’t it?’’ Gasol said of a trade possibility. “I find it unlikely, but it’s possible at the same time. I think anyone in the league is tradeable unless you have a trade clause, which I don’t have, unfortunately. I’ll try and work that out in my next deal.’’